In 1993 the streets of Swindon were packed with fans greeting Swindon Town footballers who had taken the team into the Premier League in a nail-biting game against Leicester City at Wembley. It was one of the proudest days in Swindon Town Football Club’s history.
Twenty-five years on, in 2018, the Swindon Town Supporters’ Trust is looking to make history again by making a serious bid to buy and run the County Ground – the home of the football club.
If successful, it’s believed it will be the first such Trust in the UK to achieve such a thing and secure such an asset for the good of their own team and for the wider community.
Steve Mytton, chair of the Trust, said: “We are immensely proud of our bid and humbled by the support we have received to date from supporters, residents, local businesses and organisations who have already taken the time to back us. We’ve spent the past months working on our offer and plans but rest assured the passion and commitment is greater than ever.”
It was in August 2017, that the Trust submitted a detailed proposal to Swindon Council – after years of discussions – which summarised a financial offer and underlined how a community bid would bring additional benefits to Swindon. This included a major third party fully funded stadium development which could begin almost immediately, once planning permission has been granted.
Prior to submitting the bid, the Trust had invested approximately £30,000 in professional fees to ensure full due diligence has been carried out on the purchase of the County Ground. The key aim of this investment was to work towards securing the County Ground for the club and community for the long term.
The Council then undertook an up-to-date valuation of the County Ground and this led to the Trust submitting a revised proposal increasing their financial offer. Several positive meetings with councillors have followed. At that time, there were no other bids on the table.
The Trust are proud to announce that they’ve already secured substantial financial backing for their bid and are confident of completing the transaction if chosen as the successful bidder.
Steve Mytton said: “Given the overwhelming support we’ve already received we believe this campaign will be a success and we are confident we – as a collective – can build a sustainable future for our club and for our stadium. Our plans will directly benefit the club, fans and the community.”
The Trust are aware another bid has been submitted latterly by the owner of Swindon Town Football Club and welcome the start of the democratic process in the coming weeks.
“Whatever the outcome, we are committed, as a Trust, to safeguarding the County Ground, not just for Swindon Town supporters, but for the whole community and we are willing to work with anyone who is also dedicated to that end, “ Steve said.
Local businessman James Phipps, who is a member of the Trust’s board, has also welcomed the start of the democratic process.
He said: “Whether there is one bid, two bids or multiple bids on the table for owning, maintaining and upgrading the County Ground, we will be trusting our elected councillors to make a decision which is based upon all relevant factors.
“As a Trust, we are a democratic, transparent community organisation that publishes accounts each year, governed by the rules of Supporters Direct and also the FCA (the Financial Conduct Authority).”
The Trust will be holding its annual general meeting in March this year when fans will be brought up to date with recent developments.